Thursday 17 October 2019

From Pat Shortt's Hey! to Blindboy's podcast tour – it’s the best of comedy in 2019

Catherine Meyer
Jo McNally

Hilary A White

A look ahead to the best comedy gigs in 2019.

Brendan Grace: Celebrating 48 Years  of Comedy

January 1 - March 2, nationwide

Why wait until the big 5-0? That's the attitude of Brendan Grace, who hits the road for this mammoth tour of his homeland armed with 48 years of "greatest hits" (and maybe the odd Frank Sinatra anecdote) in his suitcase. At 67, Grace is a well-oiled machine, with a disreputable, pickled stage persona that must surely cause the odd raised eyebrow in his adopted home of Florida. Hopefully he doesn't hold back at this stage of the game.

Pat Shortt: Hey!

January 3 - April 26, nationwide

Shortt is gradually becoming more associated with his considerable acting chops (most recently displayed in crime drama The Belly of the Whale) than his comedy and showman roots. This extensive Irish tour of a new sketch-comedy live show - including a three-night run at Dublin's Olympia Theatre - should reconnect audiences with his, ahem, unbelievable ability to hold a mirror up to myriad Irish absurdities.

Danny O'Brien: Lock-In

January 16 - May 5, nationwide

This set went down a storm at both the Edinburgh Fringe and Galway Arts Festival this year, not to mention many international haunts that the tireless Wicklowman has fetched-up in. Perhaps the best acid test of O'Brien's punch, however, was last year's support slot for Bill Burr that had a sold-out 3Arena well primed by the time the US stand-up giant took the stage.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes: Living Dangerously

January 24, National Concert Hall, Dublin

An evening with the great explorer sounds like just the ticket to break up the flabby gloom of January hibernation. Not only has Fiennes done it all - reached every pole, peak, and dangerous pursuit he set his mind to - but he's able to relate the experiences in gripping, matter-of-fact language. Expect the teak-tough old dog to politely grumble about how bloody safe exploration is now in the age of GPS and Google Maps.

David McSavage: National Treasure

February 8, Olympia Theatre, Dublin

Love him or loathe him, an Ireland without McSavage and The Savage Eye to take it down a peg or two would be an insufferable place. Expect plenty of this during this much-anticipated Olympia headliner, what with the economy at risk of overheating once again and "notions" creeping back in. A whiff of danger follows McSavage about, which is another reason to follow his moves closely.

The Blindboy Podcast Tour

March 4, Vicar St, Dublin

Now situated somewhere between high priest of the zeitgeist and arch raconteur, Blindboy Boatclub's plastic facade is now an icon of post-Recession social commentary. A large part of the brand lies in his wildly popular podcasts which have a canny ability to wander seamlessly between stream of consciousness and deep analysis of a range of serious issues. If you're quick, you might nab a ticket to this Vicar Street recording to see for yourself. He's also at the Royal Theatre, Castlebar, on February 15. /

Catherine Mayer

March 13, National Concert Hall

Catherine Meyer

The potential is here for something that will remain with the audience long after the house lights have gone up. Mayer's background as a journalist, political analyst and Women's Equality Party co-founder equips her with a wry and piercing take on inequality, injustice and "sound-bite culture in a messy world". She appears as part of NCH's Words+Ideas series, and it also features evenings with Everything I Know About Love author and podcaster Dolly Alderton, ex-Slits guitarist Viv Albertine, and best-selling author Matt Haig (Reasons to Stay Alive, Notes on a Nervous Planet).

Joanne McNally: Gleebag

April 26, Vicar St, Dublin (plus further dates nationwide)

Jo McNally

A darkly comedic play about her treatment for anorexia called Bite Me is an example of the boundary-pushing that has made McNally a notable feature on the Irish comedy circuit. Gleebag (don't look at us) is her debut solo headline show, and right before this lofty Vicar Street date, the Killiney native and former Republic of Telly presenter will be Down Under at the Adelaide Fringe. Rarely does an Irish comic return from the antipodes without a trunk of good material to accompany the tan, so this should be good.

Ben Elton

September 27 Olympia Theatre, Dublin

Once ubiquitous to anyone within earshot of UK television, Ben Elton goes back to his stand-up roots with the first show of a 53-date tour. There will no doubt be much to discuss for this legendary wit and TV writer (The Young Ones, Blackadder, The Thin Blue Line), who has always found space for political commentary that was as scathing as it was hilarious. A good time to catch up with him, then.

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